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updated: 5/19/2017 1:37 PM

Lake County Sheriff's Office rolls out body camera program

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  • Body camera worn by Lake County Sheriff's officers.

    Body camera worn by Lake County Sheriff's officers.
    Courtesy of Lake County Sheriff

 
 

The Lake County Sheriff's Office is close to equipping all of its 230 officers with body-worn cameras, officials said Friday.

About 95 percent of the officers working with the department have been trained and are wearing the body cameras, Sgt. Christopher Covelli said. The officers work in court security, warrants division, highway patrol and marine unit, as well as criminal investigation division detectives and supervisors, he said.

Officers in the jail have been wearing body cameras for a couple of years, Covelli added.

Sheriff Mark Curran said the goal for wearing the cameras is transparency during situations where law enforcement must be involved.

"We're excited about it," Curran said. "I think this is what the public expects from a first-rate law enforcement office."

The process has taken about two years to complete from start to finish, he said. The goal is to have the remaining officers equipped with body-worn cameras by June 1.

Covelli said the square camera sits on an officer's chest, on top of the bulletproof vest. Deputies manually activate a record button when they need to turn on the video, then deactivate the camera when its not needed.

When the camera is in standby mode, it automatically buffers to capture 30 seconds of video before the officer hitting the record button, he said.

The sheriff's office received $73,000 in federal funding to offset startup costs and purchase cameras for deputies and other sworn personnel, Covelli said. The sheriff's office signed a five-year contract worth more than $1 million for use of the cameras, translating to an annual cost is about $200,000, he said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office was only one of three Illinois law enforcement agencies to be awarded the funding through the Body Worn Camera Pilot Implementation Program, authorities said. Police departments in Chicago and Elgin are the others.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced $20 million for a new Body Worn-Camera Pilot Implementation Program in 2015, as part of a broader effort to expand funding and training through community policing initiatives.

Most recently, police departments in Gurnee, East Dundee and Round Lake Park have equipped officers with body worn cameras. Round Lake Park put its program on hold after it was discovered the cameras were recording officers when they weren't supposed to.

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